9 of the best guided walks in London
Words by Helen Dorritt
Exploring the capital on foot is a great way to learn more of its secrets and see a new side to the city, so we’ve rounded up nine of our favourite London guided talks and walks.
From street art to food, Harry Potter to, er, toilets, these are sure to amuse, delight and educate.
1 Street art and graffiti tour
The East End of London is now world-renowned for its eclectic collection of graffiti and street art, all of which are best seen from a pedestrian’s vantage point. Strawberry Tours’ two-hour walk introduces you to these artistic delights, delving into the streets and alleyways of Spitalfields and Shoreditch to show work by artists such as Zabou, Mr Cenz, Solo and, of course, Banksy.
The tour is free (you pay what you want at the end), although booking is required. It runs every day at 2pm with extra tours at 10.30am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
2 Secret London tour
Fun London Tours’ Secret London shows you the unique and unusual side to the capital, taking in 2,000 years of history and introducing you to houses, pubs, bookshops and alleyways that all have fascinating stories to tell.
After going on this tour you’ll know where the world’s smallest police station used to be, where Mozart composed his first symphony and much more. Tickets cost £18 (£12 concessions) and tours take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
3 Harry Potter walking tour
Download the detailed route map and description for free and then you can enjoy a self-guided tour around London landmarks such as Australia House (Gringotts), Leadenhall Market (Diagon Alley) and, of course, platform 9¾ at King's Cross train station. If you prefer a guided tour, then Richard and his colleagues are happy to act as your Muggle companions.
4 London’s lost rivers walking tours
If you think the Thames is the only river in London, then think again – the city is built over a network of rivers, such as the Fleet, the Tyburn and the Effra.
Writer Paul Talling has spent years researching these lost waterways, and offers a series of tours taking you along the routes of these forgotten rivers, interspersed with titbits of social history and trivia. Costing £14 per person, Paul’s tours sell out months in advance, so book ahead to make sure you can secure a spot.
5 Black history walks
Learn about the rich black history of London with a walking tour from Black History Walks. Running from February to November, tours cover 10 districts of London, including St Paul’s/Bank, Trafalgar Square, Notting Hill and Soho, and offer the opportunity to learn more about the often-unknown black history of the capital and how its buildings and people are connected with politics, trade, slavery, racism and religion.
Tours cost £10 for adults and £3 for children, and last around two hours.
6 Bowl of Chalk walking tours
Cockney rhyming slang for ‘walk’, Bowl of Chalk walking tours are run by experienced guide Jonnie Fielding, a Londoner with an extremely detailed knowledge of the city and its rich history.
Jonnie offers three weekend tours: Trafalgar Square to St Paul’s on Saturday morning, St Paul’s to Monument on Saturday afternoon, and east London on Sunday morning, with each tour lasting around three hours and operated on a pay-what-you-want basis. He’s also able to offer private tours tailored to your specific interests.
7 London loo tours
Run by the ‘loo ladies’, London loo tours take you on a journey around some of the capital’s finest public conveniences, while entertaining you with fun facts about bodily functions.
Tickets cost £15 (£10 concessions) and there are four tours to choose from, including the Bloomsbury loo tour, which looks at the evolution of the toilet, and Thomas Crapper’s Times, which teaches you about the gentleman who is forever associated with the toilet.
8 Secret food tours
Eat, drink and be merry with a delicious walking tour that celebrates British cuisine. Make sure you’ve got an empty stomach as you’ll be sampling delights such as bacon and egg baps, fish and chips, sausage rolls and British cheeses on the London Bridge tour, and bagels, truffles and street food in the Shoreditch tour.
There’s also an Indian food tour that explores the cuisine of Brick Lane, plus gin and beer tours. Prices start at £59 per person, which covers all of the food, including a secret dish.
9 Silent disco tours
As the tagline on their website says, why walk when you can dance? Silent disco tours give you the opportunity to strut your stuff around the streets of London, accompanied by a banging soundtrack and a host who’ll regale you with hilarious facts.
Tours include West End musicals, drag queen disco diva, and ghosts of Hammersmith – a macabre story that’s set to music and visits spooky haunts and burial sites. Tickets cost £19 each.